IT asset monitoring is the practice of monitoring an enterprise’s IT assets, including hardware, software, and cloud. Closely related to asset monitoring or asset management, asset monitoring solutions capture and log information about tangible assets. Asset monitoring solutions are empowering IT teams to monitor the status and location of all assets.
This article will cover the basics of IT asset monitoring, including:
IT asset monitoring is considered a part of IT asset management (ITAM), a broader discipline that covers how enterprises manage the entire lifecycle of IT assets. Another closely related discipline is asset tracking. ITAM helps IT teams with everything from asset procurement to employee onboarding to patching and maintenance, auditing and compliance, and, finally, retirement.
There are two basic types of asset monitoring software (and also asset tracking software); “presence-based” and “usage-based.” Presence-based monitoring focuses on the location of a specific asset or device. Increasingly, this covers cloud computing infrastructure locations because organizational and legal compliance may be tied to verifying the physical location of data or infrastructure, even when it is in the cloud. Usage-based monitoring examines usage patterns to understand consumption and identify anomalies or events that merit further examination – for example, if an executive logs into a machine at three in the morning, something she has never done before.
After reading this article, you should have a good grasp of how asset monitoring solutions fit into the It landscape, how they relate to IT asset management (ITAM), and what features you should ask for and expect in modern, robust asset monitoring software solutions.
IT asset monitoring is actually a subset of asset management. Monitoring IT assets fall into two disciplines inside an organization. IT teams monitor assets for compliance purposes, to understand usage trends, and to verify that assets are online, operational, and functioning properly. Security teams use asset monitoring to verify that assets are not exhibiting anomalous behaviors, are not being accessed in unexpected locations or via unexpected networks, and are not violating company security policies. Both disciplines rely on asset monitoring to verify the security and patch status of assets connected to corporate networks or managed by the corporation. This increasingly includes BYOD assets, home networking equipment, and WiFI, and personal laptops or tablets used to engage with work systems.
There are a number of key differences between asset management monitoring and asset monitoring systems.
Asset monitoring focuses primarily on monitoring asset location and status. Asset management covers the entire lifecycle of assets, from purchase and procurement to onboarding into IT systems to assignment to employees to retirement or end of life.
In asset monitoring, IT teams track physical devices by scanning barcodes or by using RFID or GPS tags that broadcast location data. IT teams also use SSO or software agents to track usage and ownership of non-physical assets like software, SaaS, and cloud servers. In asset management, teams are often relying on other systems to provide data for management tasks.
Asset monitoring may be a standalone portion of asset management – CMDBs, UEMs, and other product types all have a strong asset monitoring component.
There are numerous clear benefits to asset monitoring, ranging from theft prevention to improved clarity of consumption to faster compliance and audit completion. As we witnessed during the COVID-19 pandemic, remoting asset monitoring is now essential for maintaining security, compliance, and service quality. With the rise of the Internet of Things (IoT) and the rapid increase in the type and number of connected assets requiring monitoring, asset monitoring of IoT has become a first-order concern and priority. Here are some of the specific benefits of asset monitoring:
More broadly, asset monitoring makes it easier to manage and maintain securely and efficiently a hybrid IT infrastructure that mixes and matches a wider variety of asset types and workforce status, including BYOD, cloud infrastructure, SaaS, trusted contractors/freelancers, work-from-home or remote, and more types of connected devices and systems. Asset monitoring software helps enterprises to ensure compliance with a widening array of regulations and laws such as SOC2, ISO 27001, GDPR, and CCPA, as well as older regulations that remain challenging, including PCI DSS and HIPAA.
Selecting an asset monitoring solution merits careful consideration and comparison. There are dozens of solutions on the marketplace, ranging from very basic products and open source offerings to complicated and integrated enterprise offerings that might cost six or seven figures per year. Here is a quick rundown on features that you may want to consider to ensure your asset monitoring software does what you want.
This is just an overview of feature considerations. Your specific organizational needs may vary but consider the above as you build out your purchasing and consideration process for IT asset tracking for your organization.